Russia Destroys Largest Power Plant in Kyiv Region

FILE -Ukrainian soldiers fire a D-30 cannon toward Russian positions at the front line, near Klishchiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, last month. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

(Bloomberg News/TNS) — A sweeping Russian missile attack on Ukraine destroyed the largest power generating plant in the Kyiv region as Vladimir Putin’s forces exploit gaps in the war-battered nation’s air defense as part of a renewed offensive. 

The strike set ablaze the turbine hall of the coal-fired Trypilska plant 28 miles south of the capital, according to Andriy Hota, the supervisory board chairman of state-owned power producer Centrenergo. The facility was hit by six missiles early Thursday, a person familiar with the strike said on condition of anonymity. 

“We need to speak about air defense — it’s the biggest challenge today,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a visit to Lithuania on Thursday, listing regions hit in the barrage. Centrenergo’s Hota said the company’s power generation “has been ruined” after attacks on its facilities. 

As Ukrainian forces suffer from mounting shortages of ammunition and manpower, the Kremlin has intensified strikes on energy infrastructure. All of it highlights a Ukrainian military stretched as the war heads into its third year with no end in sight. 

In the sign of growing urgency, the Ukrainian parliament approved a contested mobilization law Thursday aimed at replenishing its military ranks. The legislation, which tightens registration rules, narrows exemptions from military service and introduces some penalties for evaders, was approved by 283 votes in the 450-assembly, according to several lawmakers. 

The parliament expedited the measures even as conscription becomes an ever-more sensitive issue among citizens exhausted by the conflict. But military leaders say more stringent conscription rules are necessary to keep up with the Russian onslaught. 

“No matter how much help we get, how many weapons we have — we lack people,” the commander of Ukraine’s ground troops, Oleksandr Pavliuk, said in a social media post on Monday. 

After capturing the eastern city of Avdiivka earlier this year, Russian troops have unleashed their firepower all along the frontline and made marginal advances. Kremlin troops are seeking to capture strategically key spots, such as the town of Chasiv Yar, west of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. 

Meanwhile, a $60 billion U.S. aid package continues to be blocked by Republicans in Congress, with House Speaker Mike Johnson yet to call a vote as he seeks to prevent a rebellion from hard-liners in his ranks. 

But the battering of Ukraine’s energy system has laid bare the country’s vulnerability, particularly on air defense. The overnight missile and drone strike targeted power plants and underground gas-storage facilities in five regions across Ukraine, with air defense downing fewer than half of an estimated 42 missiles volleyed at the country, Ukraine’s Air Force said. 

The assault reverberated beyond Ukraine with European natural gas futures rising to their highest level in over two weeks. Benchmark futures jumped as much as 7.1%, more than offsetting the previous two days’ losses.

Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed it launched a “massive strike” aimed at damaging Ukraine’s power and energy system. The objectives of the strike have been achieved, it said on its social media channel. The attack was a response to Ukrainian strikes on Russia’s oil and gas industry and energy facilities, it said.

Energy Minister German Galushchenko cited damage to power-generation facilities and the grid near Kyiv, as well as strikes in the eastern Kharkiv region, Zaporizhzhia in the south and Lviv in the west. The region around the port city of Odesa on the Black Sea was also hit, Zelenskiy said on social media. 

Power supply in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and the surrounding region was also disrupted after being hit by at least 10 missiles, regional Governor Oleh Synehubov said. 

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